This Day In History: 1915-03-11

At 7.00 am, in thick fog, the 2nd Battalion prepared to renew its attack on the Bois de Biez. However, flanking units of the 8th Division had been checked by German opposition. As a consequence orders were given for the Battalion to stand fast until 8th Division had achieved its objectives. Despite best endeavours this they were unable to do and as a result the Battalion had to remain in situ until the early hours of 12 March when it was ordered to retire to Neuve Chapelle for rest and refitting. Two days of fighting had resulted in two British officers wounded, one missing (See Note); 2 Gurkha officers killed, one missing; 17 Other ranks killed, 41 wounded and 27 . The gains were not only the capture of Neuve Chapelle but also a successful advance on a front of two miles to a depth of 1,000 yards. Losses had been heavy: the Meerut Division had over 4,000 casualties, German losses were estimated at circa 18,000. It was also the first time during the war that the German line had been broken.

Note: the missing British officer was Major Nicolay who was commanding one of the lead companies in the assault on Bois de Biez. Reported as missing it was not till nearly a year and a half later that the Society in Geneva for tracing out missing men, was able to report that a German unit which had fought in the same area had come across Major Nicolay’s body with his orderly lying near him, badly wounded. The orderly became a prisoner.